A whirlwind of pride for Ilonggos

ABOVE THE BELT | ALEX P. VIDAL

“You don’t stumble upon your heritage. It’s there, just waiting to be explored and shared.” –Robbie Robertson

NEW YORK CITY — There is always an element of pride and exhilaration etched on the face of any Ilonggo anywhere in the world when random discussions take a spiral on the Dinagyang Festival.

Ilonggos are always brimming with so much excitement and enthusiasm once someone brings out the topic on Iloilo City’s annual cultural and religious festivities that last for a week highlighted by a fluvial parade, colorful ati dance competitions, among other cultural, religious, sports and tourism programs and activities.

There is no other festival or event that defines the Ilonggos’ heritage and culture to the level of maximum bliss and erudition.

The hysteria whipped up by all the positive energy that clustered the metropolis for one week is shared by every stakeholder and those behind the wheels that steered the festival to what it is today.

Ilonggos parlayed and talk about the Dinagyang Festival like they were promoting their own values, talents, and personal achievements in the global platform.

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Dinagyang is Iloilo; Iloilo is Dinagyang.

There is so much goodness and substance that radiate in the horizon when an Ilonggo talks about the 51-year-old festival, which has now become the focal point when our tourism officials led by Department of Tourism-6 Director Helen Catalbas and Iloilo City Tourism Chief Junel Ann Divinagracia promote Iloilo City and Western Visayas as whole.

Even the Iloilo Business Club (IBC) has been smitten by the Dinagyang’s potentials and solid impact on business an investment opportunities over the years.

Although their hands are full owing to the stressful security preparations, members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) get a special attention, credit and commendation when the festival goes to bed with nary an anarchy and revelry-related bedlam.

Ilonggos always find the Dinagyang Festival as an occasion to refine and rebuild their spirit and character.

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Ricardo Alonsabe, an Ilonggo Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) in Victoria, Seychelles, watched the Dinagyang Festival in his laptop in the lobby of a restaurant where he worked last year.

“I opened my Facebook account and was able to get access to the ‘live’ performances,” said Alonsabe, a chef in a restaurant serving African food.

Alonsabe’s co-workers and some tourists joined him and they were enthralled by the sound of drums and choreography of ati warriors.

“It’s really a world class festival,” he chortled.

Alonsabe and thousands of other OFWs all over the five continents were like watching the Dinagyang Festival “live” in the streets.

With the advent of technology, Dinagyang Festival could now be seen on the Internet and in any social media platform.